If you love playing bluegrass, you'll be delighted to know you can download plenty of sheet music for free. You'll find music for guitar, and you'll also find it geared toward other major instruments that are frequently used in bluegrass bands, including banjo, fiddle, mandolin, bass, and dobro.
Sites for Bluegrass Sheet Music
On your quest for bluegrass sheet music, you'll most often find music that includes both standard notation and chords. Some websites also include lyrics or tidbits of information about the songs themselves.
Traditional Music Library
On the Traditional Music Library's website, you'll find a page devoted to bluegrass music, including discussion, music books available for purchase, and tutorials on how to sing and play bluegrass. On the page linked from the tab at the top of the page labeled Bluegrass Songs Index, you'll find a wealth of bluegrass sheet music suitable for all instruments, along with information about which keys the songs are written in and whether or not lyrics are included. The sheet music includes both notation and chords. To download the music, click on the tune number in the list, then right click on the sheet music and choose "save as." You can also listen to the songs to hear what they sound like played at slow, medium, or fast speed.
Traditional Tune Book Online
At the Traditional Celtic, Old Time & Bluegrass Tune Book, you'll find music and information on a variety of folk styles, including reels, airs, marches, polkas, and, of course, bluegrass. The Traditional Tune Book Online features a prodigious number of old time, country, and bluegrass tunes collected by Glenn Weiser, a musician and instructor dubbed by Acoustic Guitar magazine as a master teacher. The sheet music, arranged alphabetically, includes both standard notation and chords. Some of it also includes tabs for mandolin, guitar, and banjo. To download the music, simply click on a title, then right click and choose "save as."
Free Scores boasts a huge repository of free sheet music, and bluegrass music is no exception. You can find over 160 pages of results for country and bluegrass music, which you can either browse page by page or click the boxes to the left to refine your search by instrument, whether guitar, mandolin, and banjo with tablature, full bluegrass band with mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and bass, or guitar solo. To listen to a song or download the music, click on a song title. If you want to listen to the tune, click on the play button or download the MP3. You can choose to view the PDF for the sheet music by clicking on the eye icon or download it immediately by clicking on "PDF."
In addition to selling innovative guitars like harp guitars and fanned fret guitars, Jay Buckley offers an excellent selection of free bluegrass sheet music and tabs. The sheet music includes both standard notation and chords, and much of it gives finger positions to use if you enjoy fingerpicking bluegrass songs. The sheet music and tabs are arranged in three sections. The first section is music for harp guitar, and the second is for harp ukelele. The largest section consists of music for the main instruments used in bluegrass: guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass, and dobro. In this third section, the music is arranged alphabetically by song title. To access the music, click on a title, and a PDF will be brought up which you can then download or print.
On Guitar Nick, Nicola Mandorino, offers free music lessons, sheet music, and tablature to people who are interested in learning to play the guitar. If you like the acoustic flatpicking style of playing guitar, you will want to check out the sheet music on Nick's site. You'll find a nice selection of music for bluegrass guitar and Irish folk songs, arranged alphabetically by title, which includes musical notation, chords, and finger positions for picking. To download the music, click on a song title. You'll be taken to a page where you will see fingerpicking tablature and standard notation. Right click on the kind of music you want, then choose "save as." The songs also include videos which show what the songs sound like and how to play them.
The Way of the Fiddle
Do you love playing bluegrass on the fiddle? Maybe you're a bluegrass guitarist who plays in a band and your fiddler needs more sheet music, or maybe you'd like to fingerpick the tunes on your guitar or banjo. Whatever your situation, you'll want to have a look at The Way of the Fiddle, a website that makes available old-time, Appalachian fiddle tunes in standard notation, offered in PDF format. This site is extra-special since it has fascinating information about each song, whether nuggets about the songwriters, where the songs came from, or tidbits about how to best play the songs. To obtain the music, click on a title to get a PDF, which you can either download or print.
Finding More Bluegrass Resources
If you want more bluegrass music or more information about how to play it, you'll be glad to know that additional resources are easy to find. There's no lack of resources online, all available at your fingertips.
- When you search for bluegrass sheet music, you'll find in your search results sites that offer a diversity of music, such as Jan Wolters Sheet Music. Sites like these offer sheet music in multiple genres and styles, but they're likely to have bluegrass music, as well. Scroll down, explore the categories and song titles, and see what you find.
- Don't forget to vary your search terms. Bluegrass music is a specific kind of folk music, so you might try searching online for folk sheet music or Americana sheet music. You'll wind up with a great many sites to examine, such as Old Town Saginaw Music Association, a website with links to sheet music, MP3s, backup tracks, and other bluegrass and folk music resources.
- Closely examine sites that are aggregates of links related to bluegrass, folk music, or Americana, such as Free Sheet Music Links, which can point you toward many more useful and interesting resources for bluegrass music.
- If you know the title of the song you want, you could search for it. Let's say you want music for Arkansas Traveler. If you plug the title of the song into Google along with the phrase "free sheet music," you'll get several links to music for the song, including one on 8Notes.com. Searching for Cripple Creek along with the phrase "free sheet music" results in several hits, among them a PDF score from FreeSheetMusic.net. If the song is in the public domain, as traditional music tends to be, you stand a good chance of finding free sheet music for it.
Have Fun Jamming
Once you've acquired a nice collection of bluegrass sheet music, you're sure to have a great time playing it. By its very nature, bluegrass music is fun to play, and it will lift your spirits, whether you're playing it by yourself or jamming with a band. Practice hard and with diligence, and over time, you'll pick up speed and skill, and your fingers will be flying over the strings and fretboard of your favorite bluegrass instrument.